Common Mistake: Using Conditioner All Over Your Hair
Most people apply conditioner as they do shampoo: starting at the top of the head and working it all through the hair. But the hair closest to the roots is healthy new growth; it's the ends that are older and more likely to be damaged. Apart from wasting product, conditioning the roots can weigh your hair down and make it look greasy, says Gina Lees, a stylist with the Adolf Biecker Spa, in Philadelphia.
A better way: Starting at your ears, apply conditioner all the way to the ends. You will gain volume and won't have to wash your hair as often.
2 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Applying Foundation Without Giving Moisturizer Time to Dry
The creaminess of a moisturizer can cause makeup to thin out if the moisturizer hasn't had enough time to soak into the skin. "This can result in blotchiness and ultimately limit the amount of coverage your foundation can offer throughout the day," says Laura Geller, a makeup artist in New York City.
A better way: Wait 60 seconds, until the moisturizer is absorbed. Or, if you're short on time, blot your face with a tissue after moisturizing, then apply foundation.
3 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Spraying on Perfume After You Are Dressed
Perfume can stain fabric, and fabric fibers can make perfume smell unpleasant. "Fragrance is formulated to be applied to the skin, where it interacts with the heat of the body," says Terry Molnar, executive director of the Sense of Smell Institute, in New York City.
A better way: Before dressing, lightly dab or spray it onto the skin at one or two of the "pulse points"―knees, wrists, base of the throat, and behind the earlobes. And don't rub your wrists together. This breaks down a perfume's molecular structure.
4 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Plucking Eyebrows Too Close to the Mirror
When you're focused on every little hair, you don't keep track of the shape of the entire eyebrow. The result? Thin or uneven brows.
A better way: Find a large mirror near a window, then step back a few feet to survey your face, says Ramy Gafni, owner of RamySpa, in New York City. Brows should be in proportion to your face shape and the placement and size of your features. Move closer to the mirror and begin tweezing. Step back after every few hairs to check the symmetry of your brows.
5 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Neglecting Your Neck
When you take care of your face, don't stop at the chin: The skin on your neck can be thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your face and just as prone to changes in pigment, elasticity, and texture―and, yes, to wrinkles.
A better way: When applying sunscreen to your face, keep going, covering your neck and even your chest. (Spread some on the backs of your hands, too―another vulnerable area.) "A separate neck cream is not necessary―these are marketing ploys," says Ole Henriksen, owner of the Ole Henriksen Face/Body Spa, in West Hollywood, California. Your day and night face moisturizers, as well as most treatment creams, should work just as well on your neck. But if you use products containing alpha hydroxy acids or retinols, do a spot-test first.
6 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Using Moisturizer to Reduce Puffiness Around the Eyes
A salty diet, among other things, can cause fluid retention around the eyes. Step away from the eye cream! Hydrating ingredients hold water in the skin, so moisturizers and eye creams may make your eyes look even puffier, says Heidi Waldorf, the director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City.
A better way: If the skin around your eyes is puffy but not red, irritated, or itchy, apply a cold compress or an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes. You could also follow up with a lightweight eye gel containing caffeine, says Waldorf. If your eye area is puffy, red, irritated, or itchy, see a dermatologist. You may have an allergic rash.
7 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Bathing or Showering Until Your Body and Hair Feel "Squeaky Clean"
The sound may be satisfying, but it also indicates that―either by staying too long in the shower or bath or by scrubbing too vigorously―you've removed the natural oils and lipids that seal in moisture and protect your skin and hair.
A better way: First, evaluate your tools and products: A loofah sponge or a medicated shampoo may be stripping your skin and hair, says Loretta Ciraldo, a Miami dermatologist and the author of 6 Weeks to Sensational Skin. In general, try to limit your shower or bath time to 10 minutes or less and use warm, not hot, water.
8 of 8Hallie Burton
Common Mistake: Overmedicating Blemishes
Ack! You have a breakout. So you blast it with a spot cream. Then, for good measure, you douse it again. "Most of these treatments contain acids that penetrate the skin for hours after they are applied," says Ciraldo. "Overuse can result in a burn that causes redness, peeling, and irritation."
A better way: Follow the directions on the medication's package; most say to use it once or twice a day. Avoid drying out your skin.